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HELSINKI COMMISSION APPLAUDS MLADIC ARREST

WASHINGTON —The Helsinki Commission leadership today welcomed the capture and arrest by Serbian authorities of Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia with genocide and other war crimes associated with the 1992-95 conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Mladic has been at large since 1995.   

“Having been to Srebrenica to meet with the mothers of many of those killed in that genocide, my thoughts and prayers are with them today,” said Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the Helsinki Commission. “Everyone who survived the atrocities perpetrated by Mladic’s forces in Bosnia – and especially those who lost family and friends as a result of the savagery he committed – has long awaited his capture and trial.”  “It is my sincere hope that they will feel that justice is being served as Mladic is finally held to account,” Smith said. 

“I am enormously pleased to hear that Serbian authorities have arrested Ratko Mladic,” commented Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman.   “It has taken time and pressure to overcome the numerous hurdles that were placed in the way of his apprehension.  I take Serbian President Boris Tadic’s reminder that Goran Hadzic is still at-large and must be found as a clear expression of his commitment to put the Milosevic era completely behind Serbia, and he has my full support in that regard.  This is a good day for Serbia, Bosnia and all the countries of the region.”               

The U.S. Helsinki Commission was at the forefront of the earliest international efforts to respond decisively to the Bosnian conflict from 1992-95, including calling for lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia and for the establishment of an international tribunal.  Through public hearings, correspondence, legislative efforts, bilateral meetings, country visits and gatherings of parliamentarians from across Europe, the Helsinki Commission has continually and consistently pressed all countries of the region to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), located in The Hague.

In July 2007, Helsinki Commission Chairman Christopher H. Smith, who in 1995 chaired hearings specifically on the Srebrenica genocide and in 2005 authored H. Res. 199, which formally recognized the massacre at Srebrenica as a genocide, was awarded the “Srebrenica 1995 Prize” by the Mothers of Srebrenica in recognition of his contribution to the resistance against genocide in the world.

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